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Fire safety starts in the kitchen

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23 Jun 2010
NEARLY one-third of house fires start in the kitchen according to fire authorities and claims data from RACV Insurance, prompting a warning to householders to cook safely this winter.

In the past five years, RACV Insurance data shows there were 1050 claims lodged as a result of kitchen fires, representing 29 per cent of the total fire claims received (excluding bushfires), followed by household appliances, fireplaces and heaters.

Paul Northey, General Manager of RACV Insurance believes that any electrical appliance is a potential fire hazard.

“Dishwashers, televisions and computers can all cause fires. Care needs to be taken to make sure they are in good working order and that electrical cords are not worn.”

The figures show that electrical appliances were involved in almost 13 per cent of fire claims. There were 74 microwaves, 67 dishwashers and 62 televisions involved in claims.

Mr Northey stressed that householders need to be even more careful during the colder weather, as heating appliances and fireplaces significantly increase the risk of fire in the home.

CFA Director of Community Safety Lisa Sturzenegger said that despite warnings, fire agencies responded to 1245 house fires last winter and of those, almost one third had started in the kitchen.

She said many kitchen fires were the result of distraction while cooking with oil.

“Fat or cooking oil can reach a temperature where it ignites; so it is important that you are always watching it. Never leave cooking unattended, even for a moment,” she said.

“If a fire does start, having a working smoke alarm and a well practised fire escape plan is one of the best ways to ensure your safety.”

MFB Manager Community Education Commander Frank Stockton stressed the importance of every home having a working smoke alarm.

“Most people don’t realise that they can’t smell smoke while they are asleep,” Commander Stockton said. “If a fire breaks out, a working smoke alarm is your family’s lifeline.

“You can ensure they are always in good working order by testing them once a month with a broom handle and changing the batteries every year. They really do save lives,” he said.

Most common causes of house fires*:
Kitchen 29%
Garage 7%
Electrical fault 7%
Heaters 4%
*according to RACV claims data. Excludes bushfires.

Media contact: Pauline Zahra, RACV Public Affairs, 9790 2717 or 0410 080 746

CFA Media (03) 5330 3124, MFB (03) 9665 4394

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The Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authority Council (AFAC) recommends monthly testing of smoke alarms to ensure they are working correctly.

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Only working Smoke Alarms save lives.

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